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President of Senegal Recognized as a Leader in Human Rights
an article by Julia Millstein

President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal accepted recognition as a human rights leader in New York last week. Overtaken by emotion, he abandoned the speech he had prepared for the inspiration of the moment, telling the audience that he views the award as not only an acknowledgement of past accomplishments, but as an invitation to do more. The Award of the International League for Human Rights was a bright spot in a conference focused largely on situations such as the genocide in Darfur and the spread of AIDS. Wade has been a leader in addressing the former, reserving violence as a last resort, while still committing to deploy more African Union troops if necessary.

Wade’s efforts in Dakar a part of a leadership that has epitomized his well-loved statement, “Je ne veux pas marcher sur les cadavres pour aller au palais. Je prefere arriver au pouvoir dans la paix et la transparance,” meaning, “I don’t want to walk to power on cadavers to get to the palace. I prefer to arrive to power in peace and transparency.” He has asked parliament to abolish the national death penalty, denounced terrorism the day after September 11th, promoted inter-religious dialogue, and worked for mediation of conflicts in Madagascar and the Ivory Coast. He is also an incredible spokesperson for women’s rights in a region long challenged by issues of gender equality. President Wade voted for constitutional reforms promoting the status of women, an ideal he demonstrated clear fidelity to when he named Mrs. Mame Madior Boye as prime minister.

Wade’s commitment to human rights serves as an example to African leaders and in the United States. At a time when American leadership threatens fundamental rights, President Wade is a refreshing and hopeful figure.

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Latest reader comment:

Once again, as they have done now each year since 2009, the Nobel Women's Initiative provides biographies of 16 women leaders involved in local action for peace and justice around the world, and in particular to stop violence against women.  Last year's biographies were listed in the CPNN discussionboard.


This report was posted on October 5, 2004.